Thursday, February 4, 2010

Germany’s noble sweet wines of 2009

Picture: 1976 Hochheimer Kuenstler Beerenauslese, 1994 Deidesheimer Dr. Deinhard Trockenbeerenauslese, 1996 Rheingauer Jakob Kuehn Eiswein from my wine cellar

The flagships of German wines are of course the noble sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Icewine. There is nothing you can do to prevent these wines from becoming noble-sweet. As a result of the noble rot or the freezing of the grapes, the grapes have such high sugar content at harvest, that it is impossible to make dry wines from them.

These noble-sweet wines are produced either from botrytised grapes or grapes that were harvested during frost, more specifically, first, the fog in the autumn mornings at German river banks produces a fungal infection, botrytis cineria (noble rot), which removes the water in the grapes and adds a unique flavor to the grape; and second, the frost late in the year, which also removes the water in the grapes when the temperatures fall (but does not produce the botrytis taste).

In both cases, the sugar content of the grape is exceptionally high at the time of the harvest and mother nature is unable to ferment all the sugar. Thus, natural sugar remains in the wine and makes the wine sweet. These are the famous sweet dessert wines in Germany: Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein.

With most German wines, however, it is different. Germany being located at the northern border of wine making, the grapes are harvested with sugar content that they can be alternatively fermented in a dry, off-dry or sweet style. It is the winemaker who decides in the cellar if he or she wants to make a dry, off-dry or sweet wine, not mother nature in the vineyard. Thus, all wines ranging from Tafelwein to Auslese can be alternatively fermented as dry, off-dry or sweet wines.

There are principally two ways for making wine sweet that do not have enough sugar. First, you do not let the fermentation run its course and stop it. As a result, you get delicious sweet and low level alcohol wines. Second, you let the wine fully ferment to a normal alcohol level and then add “Suessreserve” which is sterilized juice to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

There are different approaches for measuring the sugar content, like Celsius and Fahrenheit for the temperature - America uses Fahrenheit, Europe uses Celsius. For the sugar content in the grapes, Americans use the Brix scale, Germans use the Oechsle scale.

Based on the Oechsle scale, German wine is classified into nine quality groups, ranging from Tafelwein with the minimum Oechsle degree of 44 to Trockenebeerenauslese with a minimum Oechsle degree of 150. The minimum Oechsle degrees differ somewhat between Germany’s wine regions and between red and white wine. The numbers indicated below are those for the white wines from the Mosel valley.

Tafelwein (Table wine) - the lowest German quality class; has to have at least 44 degrees of Oechsle in the vineyard.

Landwein (Country wine) - 47 degrees of Oechsle at the minimum.

Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA wine) means a quality wine from one of the thirteen specified German wine regions; close to half of German wine is QbA wine - 50 degrees Ochsle.

Kabinett - 67 degrees Oechsle.

Spaetlese means late harvest but this are simple wines made from grapes with a higher level of Oechsle - 76 degrees, not necessarily wine made with grapes harvested late in the season.

Auslese - 83 degrees of Oechsle.

Beerenauslese - 110 degrees of Oechsle.

Eiswein - icewine, the same minimu level of 110 degrees of Oechsle.

Trockenbeerenauslese - 150 degrees of Oechsle.

The German wine journalist Mario Scheuermann has put together a list of the 2009 wines with exceptionally high degrees of Oechsle. The highest is a Riesling in the Rheingau with 291 degrees Oechsle.

Liste der höchsten Mostgewichte des Jahrgangs 2009

Riesling TBA, Geheimrat J. Wegeler (Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau)

Riesling Eiswein, Bergsträsser Winzer eG. (Heppenheim, Hessische Bergstrass)

Riesling Eiswein, Bergsträsser Winzer eG. (Heppenheim, Hessische Bergstrasse)

Riesling-Eiswein, Weingut Drautz-Able (Heilbronn, Württemberg)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Dr. Hermann (Ürzig, Mosel)

Riesling-Eiswein, Weingut Schönleber-Blümlein (Oetsrich-Winkel, Rheingau)

Ortega TBA, Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen, Pfalz)
Riesling Eiswein, Weingut Spritzer (Oestrich, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Geheimrat J. Wegeler (Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau)
Riesling TBA, Weingut Dr. Hermann (Ürzig, Mosel)

Johanniter-Eiswein, Weingut Gruber (Eschenau, Württemberg)
Riesling-Eiswein, Weingut Sankt Annagarten (Beilstein, Württemberg)

Riesling TBA, Balthas Ress (Hattenheim, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Robert Weil (Kiedrich, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Robert Weil (Kiedrich, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Mohr (Lorch, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Kühling-Gillot (Nierstein, Rheinhessen)

Riesling TBA, Schloss Johannisberg (Geisenheim, Rheingau)
Riesling TBA, Weingut Dr. von bassermann-Jordan (Deidesheim, Pfalz)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen, Pfalz)
Huxelrebe TBA, Weingut Martinshof (Dienheim, Rheinhessen)
Riesling TBA, Weingut Sybille Kuntz, Bernkastel-Lieser, Mosel)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Graf von Kanitz (Lorch, Rheingau)

Riesling TBA, Schlossgut Diel (Burg Layen, Nahe)209 °
Grauburgunder TBA, Weingut Mohr-Gutting (Neustadt-Duttweiler, Pfalz)

Scheurebe TBA, WG Burkheim (Baden)

Riesling TBA, Weingut Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan (Deidesheim, Pfalz)
Müller-Thurgau TBA Oberbergen Bassgeige, WG Oberbergen (Baden)

203 °
Ortega TBA, Weingut Zöller-Lagas (Pfalz)
Riesling TBA, Schloss Johannisberg (Geisenheim, Rheingau)202°
Riesling TBA, Weingut von Schleinitz (Kobern-Gondorf, Mosel)
Ruländer TBA, Zeller Abtsberg Winzer eG. (Baden)200°
Chardonnay TBA, Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen, Pfalz)
Weissburgunder TBA, Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen, Pfalz)Riesling TBA, Weingut G.H. von Mumm (Johannisberg, Rheingau)

Scheurebe TBA, Weingut Friedrich Kiefer (Eichstetten, Baden)

Scheurebe TBA, WG Königschaffhausen (Baden)

Riesling TBA, Schlossgut Diel (Burg Layen, Nahe)
Riesling TBA Berncastel Doctor, Weingut Dr. Hugo Thanisch Erben (Bernkastel, Mosel)

Riesling, Weingut Philipp Kuhn (Laumersheim,Pfalz)
Riesling TBA, Schlossgut Diel (Burg Layen, Nahe)

Riesling TBA, Wein und Sektgut Barth (Hattenheim, Rheingau)

Ortega, Weingut Kreiselmaier (Lachen-Speyerdorf,Pfalz)

Weingut Gruber (Obersulm-Eschenau,Pfalz)

Riesling, Weingut Rings (Freinsheim, Pfalz)180°
Rieslaner, Weingut Neiss (Kindenheim, Pfalz)
Scheurebe BA, Winfried Frey & Söhne (Essingen, Pfalz)

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

German Eiswein - Icewine - was harvested on December 18 and 19

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

German Wine Basics: How does a Sweet German Riesling Become Sweet?

Wine Ratings: Riesling Cup 2009 - Germany's Top Dry Rieslings

German Wine Basics: Erstes Gewaechs, Grosses Gewaechs, Erste Lage

No comments:

Post a Comment